Believing to Belong: Addressing the Novice-Expert Problem in Polarized Scientific Communication

Social Epistemology 34 (5):440-452 (2020)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
There is a large gap between the specialized knowledge of scientists and laypeople’s understanding of the sciences. The novice-expert problem arises when non-experts are confronted with (real or apparent) scientific disagreement, and when they don’t know whom to trust. Because they are not able to gauge the content of expert testimony, they rely on imperfect heuristics to evaluate the trustworthiness of scientists. This paper investigates why some bodies of scientific knowledge become polarized along political fault lines. Laypeople navigate conflicting epistemic and social demands in their acceptance of scientific testimony; this might explain their deference to scientific fringe theories, which often goes together with denying established scientific theories. I evaluate three approaches to mitigate denialism: improving the message, improving the messenger, and improving the environment in which the message is conveyed.
No keywords specified (fix it)
(categorize this paper)
PhilPapers/Archive ID
Upload history
Archival date: 2020-03-22
View other versions
Added to PP index

Total views
572 ( #11,154 of 65,554 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
73 ( #10,179 of 65,554 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.